Euro 2020 Special

India vs Sri Lanka 3rd T20I Preview: Rajkot Hosts the Decider

India will play Sri Lanka in the third match of their three game T20I series on Saturday, January 7th at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 pm local time.

With India having won the first match in Mumbai, and Sri Lanka the second in Pune, this will be the series decider, meaning that there is a lot on the line in this game for both sides.

India never like to lose a series at home against any opposition, whilst, for Sri Lanka, it is a rare opportunity to gain a victory on Indian soil in any form of cricket.


Series recap

The first match in Mumbai was tight, India squeezing home by two runs. The highlights from their perspective were the performance of Shivam Mavi, who became only the third Indian to take four wickets on his T20I debut, and an ultimately match winning batting performance from Deepak Hooda.

However, Sri Lanka bounced back in Pune, making a fast start with the bat, and positing a total with the bat that India were unable to match, having given themselves a mountain to climb due to the loss of early wickets. Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel did their best to drag their side back into contention, but the odds were ultimately stacked against them.


India’s record in Rajkot

India have played four previous T20Is in Rajkot and won three, and lost one of them.

When they hosted South Africa last year here, they bowled the visitors out for just 87.


The teams

Sri Lanka are likely to name an unchanged team for the third match in a row. India are reported to be mulling over Washington Sundar, both to try and disrupt the Sri Lankan batting, but also to increase the depth of their batting order.

The question is who he will replace, with the obvious candidate being Arshdeep Singh. The left armer was recently nominated by the ICC as one of their Emerging Players for 2022, but, after being recalled to the side after injury in Pune, he had a torrid time,

He only bowled two overs, but they came at a cost of 37 runs, including five no-balls. And he set an unwanted record by becoming the first Indian bowler ever to bowl a hat-trick of no-balls in T20I cricket.

His time will come again, but it may be time to pull him out of the firing line for a while.

Mavi was unable to reproduce his heroics with the ball in the match in Pune, but, having made a decent contribution with the bat down the order, he is deserving of another chance.


The pitch

The pitch in Rajkot is regarded as an excellent batting surface, which offers little assistance to the bowlers. One exception to that rule has been leg spin, and, significantly, Yuzvendra Chahal has enjoyed some success on this ground in the past.

Winning the toss appears to be no significant advantage, with the side batting first winning twice, the same number as the chasing team.


The weather

The weather in Rajkot on Saturday is forecast to be dry and sunny, with temperatures though in the low 20s Celsius by the time that the match starts. Dew is not anticipated to be a significant factor in the match.



Normally the outcome of a T20I match between India and Sri Lanka is easy to predict, especially when it takes place on Indian soil.

This is an exception though, in part because of the decision by the selectors to field a young and largely inexperienced Indian side for this series.

It will be up to captain Hardik Pandya and some of the more experienced heads around him like Suryakumar Yadav to show some leadership to the younger heads around them.

For their part, Sri Lanka will smell blood. They might – and arguably should – have won the first match – and were convincing victors in the second. And they can boast a much more settled line-up.

Despite that, history suggests that it is foolish to bet against India in their own back yard, and they will still be expected to win. The margin of victory, though, might be a lot closer than they would like.




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